It is official: There will be no replacement for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Formula 1 will only have 22 Grands Prix this year, instead of the originally planned 23.
The Russian Grand Prix was removed from the F1 calendar following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. From 2014 to 2021, the Grand Prix was Sochi Autodrom in the city of Sochi, located adjacent to the Black Sea in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. This preceded a ban on Russian drivers from competing in British Sporting Events.
The only Russian driver on the grid was Nikita Mazepin, who was already competing under an RAF (Russian Automobile Federation) flag. After this ruling, and following widespread sanctions and outcries against Russia’s invasion, Mazepin was dismissed from the Haas F1 team. Their title sponsor Uralkali was also dropped. He was replaced by Kevin Magnussen, who has performed admirably, scoring all 15 of Haas’ points this season. Later on, Nikita and his father Dmitry were also sanctioned, after Dmitry was claimed as being “Part of the closest circle of Vladimir Putin”.
The only Russo-origin driver associated with a Formula 1 team is Ferrari’s test driver, the Russo-Israeli Robert Schwartzmann, who would be competing under an Israeli flag if he makes any appearances in any Formula 1 practice sessions this year, as stated by Mattia Binotto.
Last Time at Sochi
Calling the last (foreseeable for the near future) Russian Grand Prix weekend dramatic would be an understatement. The race was plagued by late rain, and for Lando Norris, it would prove to be his bane.
The last practice session was canceled due to unfavorable weather conditions. In a qualifying session with ‘damp’ conditions, Lando Norris took pole position, building on McLaren’s very strong 1-2 result at Monza the previous weekend, ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, and Williams’ (now Mercedes’) George Russell. For the championship contenders, Lewis Hamilton started 4th, while Max Verstappen started 20th, after a three-place-grid penalty from his collision in the previous race in Monza with Hamilton, and another penalty for changing engine components. He did not set a time.
There was rain late on during the race, which turned into a disaster for Norris and stole away what would have been his first race victory. He elected to stay out on dry tires, instead of changing to intermediate tires, like Lewis Hamilton.
During Lap 51, when tire degradation and the weather conditions caught up with Lando Norris, he lost control of his car while turning, but avoided the barriers. Hamilton promptly overtook him, and Norris then decided to come in for a pitstop. As a consequence, he had to settle for 8th place.
Lando Norris is currently running an impressive 7th for McLaren, just a point behind Lewis Hamilton’s total of 36.